In the art world, there’s a term called pentimento, meaning an alteration, an overlay on a painting, hiding evidence of traces of a previous work. In a similar vein, British physicist and former Stephen Hawking colleague, Sir Roger Penrose and his team, argue is that extinct universes exist that were filled with ghost black holes that are hidden, embedded in the Cosmic Microwave Background map.
Unexpected hot spots in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), reports Physics World, could have been produced by black holes evaporating before the Big Bang. So says a trio of scientists led by mathematical physicist Roger Penrose in a paper presenting new evidence that our universe is just one stage in a potentially infinite cycle of cosmic extinction and rebirth. Other researchers, however, remain sceptical that the microwave background really does contain signs from a previous “aeon”.
According to standard cosmology, the universe underwent a very brief but exceptionally intense expansion just after the Big Bang. This period of “inflation” would have ironed out any irregularities in the structure of the early universe, leading to the very uniform cosmos that we observe around us.
However, continues the Physics World report, Penrose, based at the University of Oxford, has developed a rival theory known as “conformal cyclic cosmology“(CCC) which posits that the universe became uniform before, rather than after, the Big Bang. The idea is that the universe cycles from one aeon to the next, each time starting out infinitely small and ultra-smooth before expanding and generating clumps of matter. That matter eventually gets sucked up by supermassive black holes, which over the very long term disappear by continuously emitting Hawking radiation. This process restores uniformity and sets the stage for the next Big Bang.
Penrose and two colleagues – Daniel An of the SUNY Maritime College in the US and Krzysztof Meissner at the University of Warsaw in Poland – report scouring CMB data from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite for hot spots of various sizes and analyzing how quickly the microwave temperature drops off around them compared to spots in 1000 simulated maps of the CMB. They found that in and around small spots, not a single simulated map had higher temperature gradients than the real cosmos – with the temperature variations in the latter case being about an order of magnitude higher than the CMB average.
All black holes disintegrate theoretically leaving a universe of gravitons and photons that don’t experience space and time as we know it because they have no mass and travel at the speed of light. Penrose describes a universe devoid of black holes that will mirror the extreme compression of our universe when the Big Bang exploded. There are no such things as distance or time in that moment, but there is something even this violent outburst can’t obliterate.
“It’s not the black hole’s singularity but the… entire Hawking radiation of the hole throughout its history,” Penrose told Live Science. For every positive graviton or photon that is released into space from the surface of a black hole’s event horizon, a negative particle (meaning negative mass and energy) falls backward to the point of no return beyond the event horizon. Negative particles cancel out mass and energy that had previously been devoured by that black hole.
This phenomenon of positive particles radiating from a black hole and being replaced by negative particles, slowly eating away at the cosmic monster, is Hawking Radiation. Hawking radiation reduces the mass and energy of black holes, and is also known as black hole evaporation. Black holes that do not gain mass through other means are expected to shrink and ultimately vanish.
What Penrose and his team observed in the CMB data were not actual remnants of the black holes that supposedly vanished billions and billions of years ago, but evidence of their existence and the universe’s past life. Eons of wasting away from Hawking radiation leave a mark in cosmic radiation background frequencies. Whatever left it behind has long since decayed, but its actual existence can be detected.
While trying to detect these imprints in the opaque CMB radiation involved ruling out potential false positives and was obviously much more painstaking than just confirming the existence of an Earthly fossil, the conclusion was ultimately the spectrum of Hawking radiation that had been left behind by the extinct black holes of a prior universe.
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